Monday, August 16, 2004

Thoughts Burbling Around After Midnight

Took some Excedrin around 6 PM and the caffeine is keeping me up, so I might as well write for a bit to clear out the thoughts and to wait for the melatonin to kick in.

I've been thinking a lot about how the kind of writing I do saps my creativity and dwindles my vocabulary. I'm hoping that in this blog I will eventually be able to recapture or create some sort of individual style. So far there is no evidence that that is happening, but I'm willing to wait and keep trying.

The past couple of weekends when B and I have gone hiking, we've listened to Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island. I love his writing. He just has such a funny, original way of expressing himself and uses words that have withered away out of disuse from my own vocabulary like "surfeit" and "confound." Why don't I use the word "confound" instead of "confuse" from time to time? It conveys so much more. "Convey"--that's a word that I find myself using over and over and over and over again in this dumb lit project. I guess there could be a few synonyms, but most of them would be off limits.

Anyway, I don't want to wander over into the boring territory of work, which I promised myself would have no place in this blog.

I also read excerpts from John Fowles' journal about the process of turning The French Lieutenant's Woman into a film. Again, here is a person who can really write an evocative (another term that pops up in the lit project--see how I limit myself?) description of the events of his life--even the mundane ones--in a seemingly effortless way. Hard to believe that he spent hours agonizing over a journal entry. There's something about the way those Oxbridge types were brought up--is it the grounding in Latin or the memorization of countless poems, etc early in life that gives them such a wonderful facility with language? I am sorry to report that for my whole life I equated education with getting a grade. I pretty much just crammed whatever I needed to know for the test into my short-term memory (which is very short) and then jettisoned it as soon as I'd garnered that A. What a terrible thing to have done to myself. I still do it. I'll write a chapter or a unit on rocks and minerals or a book about whales and a few months later...what do I remember?

Of course, when I compare writing to Bryson's and Fowles' I'm bound to find my own wanting.
Both of these men are very successful, dare I say, internationally famous, writers, so if I could write as well as they can, I'd definitely not be writing kids' textbooks. Still, aim high. I am going to make concerted effort to maybe write one good anecdote or commentary a day. Hopefully, that will eventually help me get out of this rut I feel I'm in with my profession. Or--this would be great--help the words flow faster and the work get done sooner.

At any rate, I think it will be good for me to force myself to write as me, not as the work-made-for-hire me.

On another topic. I've been thinking about the garden, and what I need to do to whip it into more satifactory shape. There's not much I can do at this point, but next year I will definitely make sure I spread compost in fall and/or spring and make sure I don't skimp on the water.

Lots of plant moving is going to have to happen once again. In fact, almost every plant is either

  • the wrong height for its location in the garden and is either lost behind an taller plant or obscuring a shorter plant
  • getting too much or not enough sun
  • a type of plant that I really do not like
  • part of an unfortunate color scheme or a color that I really do not like
So. This fall I have my work cut out for me. I am thinking of adding some stuff. I need fairly tall stuff for the section behind the arch--something that will start or still be blooming in late summer. Options I've been thinking about include yarrow, dahlias, and a type of rose called a hybrid musk rose that can apparently stomach some shade. I hope they don't mind an afternoon blast of sun, though. Anyway, they sound like a choice plant--everblooming, fragrant, disease resistant. Heirloom roses has them, but I don't want to start with their spaghetti strand plants. I may be able to mail order some. I doubt Portland Nursery has them. Maybe Jackson and Perkins sells them though they're catalog. Gotta look right now. 'Moonlight' looks like an excellent choice--it's white and blooms profusely. I feel like purchasing one online right now! Will wait. 'New Dawn' also looks like it might be a good candidate. That one's pretty common s/b available at Portland Nursery or from J&P for sure.

12:59 AM. Think I've got all this out of my system. Will head back to bed


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